Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Screen for balcony


Screen for balcony
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This is what one of the volunteers had done to prevent her cats from falling off her balcony.

TNRM !

I just spoke to someone from a place of worship who is agreeable to letting us start a TNRM programme there! A caregiver contacted me as they used to remove cats on their premises so I called up and asked if they would consider a TNRM programme, and they said they would, which is great news!

Students

Some students just called - they want to help us sell bookmarks at their school's funfair this weekend. They had just given me their address, when there was the sound of giggling and then no one was responding. The boy called back abashed a little later, and apologised because he said his friend started tickling him. Kids :)

Try to work together

One of the feeders called and said another feeder was confining a cat in a cage outside her corridor. She said the second feeder did not want to let it out for fear of another more aggressive cat beating this cat up. She was thinking of sending the cat to the SPCA.

I told the feeder who called to please try and talk to the second feeder. At the very worst, you've tried your best and we can look for another solution, but if you don't try, this poor cat is going to be sent to the SPCA. Not only that, it will undoubtedly irreparably damage the relationship between the two feeders.

It's really important, and I can't stress this enough to try and work together with the other caregivers. Some feeders I know can be very stubborn and almost impossible to work with. In that case, wish them well and then either work on your own or try and find other more like-minded people you CAN work with. At the end of the day, we're all working for the goal of trying to help the cats and to do that, we need to work together.

Hungry?


Hungry?
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I was just speaking with a caregiver who told me that she was quite sure that the pet cats that run down from the flats above are not being fed, because they also eat with her community cats. While cats don't tend to overstuff themselves (though some do!), just because they eat when you feed them doesn't mean that they are not being fed adequately by someone else.

I know in one area that we went to, that they set up a security camera to find out whom was feeding the cats. They found in the course of one day that four or five people (who all came at different times) were feeding the cats. All of them were of course in the dark about the other feeders. The cats were eating happily every time.

It would be good if you can to try and find out if anyone else feeds your community cat too. That way you don't need to replicate the work. It may be difficult to find these other caregivers but if you do, you can split the work.

Guests from Japan

We have some guests coming in from Japan tonight from the Animal welfare groups and from the Ministry of Environment. They've asked to meet some of the welfare groups tonight so we'll be having dinner with them, and with some of our local welfare groups too.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Finished updating list!

Finally finished the updating of the list. There are 26 feeders and caregivers I know in the area and 20 agreed to put their names and areas down to be submitted to the town council. Some were a bit worried and asked not to be included. One woman was very happy that there was a list so that the town council would know how to contact her.

Cat trap


Cat trap
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

here's Claris demonstrating how safe the cat trap is to use! :)

Cat injured from fall


Cat injured from fall
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Photo care of Jolanda.

This is the cat that fell last week and whom the caregivers and I were looking for the owner of. We still can't find the owner, and after begging around, I managed to find a foster for him. He's going to his foster home today.

He needs to be indoors and confined for at least a month. After that, we hope he can be adopted out, because the vet does not think he can go back on the street.

If anyone wants to adopt this sweetie, let me know.

TNRM workshop

We're having a TNRM workshop this Saturday and response has been very enthusiastic. One of the volunteers is opening her home and we have to stop inviting people now because so many people are coming. If the response is going to be so good, one of the things we discussed at the retreat was to have TNRM workshops regularly. Of course this is in addition to any one who would like us to run a workshop for people in their estate.

Michelle hard at work at retreat


Michelle hard at work at retreat
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Cats wandering

I just spoke to two different caregivers on opposite sides of the island. One had a complaint because there were problems with the town council coming down to trap her cats. I spoke to the officer who is quite a nice man, but is obviously quite hassled by complaints. He mentioned that while he sent down pest control, it was mostly for show, and that he usually told the volunteers beforehand (which is true). He said the problem wasn't that the community cats, but the home pets. He said quite a few people in those blocks had cats and let their cats wander and that the resulting number made it look very large.

I confirmed this with the volunteer and she said that they fed these home pets as well, so it did look like a lot at feeding time. She said the home cats were not being fed adequately, so they came to eat with her lot of community cats. This artificially inflates the number. The officer himself said the community cats alone were not a problem, but if you add the home cats, it became quite an issue.

We have flyered the blocks in the area, but obviously this did not work with a lot of the owners. I have asked the caregiver to please pinpoint the families, and we'll go down and speak with them.

One of the cats was caught by a resident and sent in - apparently it was a pet cat and now the volunteer has contacted the family whose cat it is. She is not very confident that they will go and redeem their cat.

Another caregiver mentioned that there was a family in her estate who let their cats out to wander at night. This also led to complaints in the area. She also needs help with mediation.

Obviously this is not the fault of the cats. Cats are not more prone to wandering than any animal - if you open the door, just about any other animal would walk out too. The onus is on the owner to take responsibility and keep the animal in.

Contact list woes

I'm spending quite a bit of time talking to some of the caregivers and feeders from the estate to compile an updated list for the town council. The town council has had this list from a few years ago as I mentioned, but they wanted to have an updated list as some people may have moved/changed their areas etc.

What was originally meant to be an updating of the list has turned out to be a major exercise in persuasion. For example,I just got off the phone with a feeder. She does not want her number given because she does not want the town council to call her home too often as her husband will object. However, she wants me to put down another feeder's number. The funny thing is that when I spoke to the other feeder, she wanted me to put this woman's number down and did not want her number used. It's compounded by the fact that both of them are not talking to each other, so they're both urging me to put the other person down as the contact.

Now the second feeder is complaining to me about the first feeder and telling me that she is difficult and does things badly. Sigh.

I think I won't be able to use either of them in this case.

Food!


Food!
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Nourishment is very important for long meetings ;)

CWS retreat


CWS retreat
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

We had a CWS retreat on Saturday for the entire afternoon. We went in just after noon and staggered out at almost 7 pm.

The idea was to set directions for the Society this year and what we hope to achieve.

Photo care of Claris.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Mothballs


Mothballs
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

The caregiver in this area uses mothballs along the corridor to stop cats defecating. Unfortunately, the same family whose cats fall from their flat,let their other cats out at night and the caregiver suspects these cats defecate along the corridor. She has spoken to them about it, but they are not receptive. She has used mothballs, which work, but the cats just do it at another spot.

Injured cat from fall


Injured cat
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This cat is being looked after by a caregiver. Look at the angle of his legs and that is a diaper he is wearing. Since his fall, his back legs are paralysed and he has problems with defecation.

The caregiver said that she believes it is a cat that belongs to a family she knows and the cat fell. This is not the first cat of theirs has fallen.

Cat at coffeeshop


Cat at coffeeshop
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Cat in Coffeeshop

One of the caregivers called me because she heard that one of the coffeeshops near where she feeds was planning to trap the cats. One of the people working in the coffee shop was feeding the cat within the coffeeshop and so the cat kept coming in. They tried speaking to the feeder who ignored their advice, so she asked me to speak to the boss.

A volunteer and I went down. I explained the situation to the boss. She said some of their clients were scared of the cat, but I told her that she needed to just speak with her employee and encourage the person to feed out of the coffeeshop, or stop feeding altogether because someone else was already caring for the cat. She agreed.

Puteh


Puteh
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This is Puteh. I first met her when she was a tiny kitten, and now look how gorgeous she is.

Booking of sterilisation


Booking of sterilisation
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Jolanda and Rebecca showing the volunteer how to use the online calender to book slots.

Catsnip Emails

Jolanda, Rebecca and I are meeting with a volunteer this afternoon who says that she can help out with the catsnip emails. With Jolanda leaving, we really do need someone who can help, so Jolanda and Rebecca are going to give her some information on what to do!

Lost cat returned

Someone wrote in to say that the pet cat she lost two months ago came home yesterday! Apparently someone else was feeding in the estate, and saw the owner's flyers and contacted her so the cat is home safe!

It seems that some cats really do go missing for long periods of time. At the conference I attended last year, they said quite a surprising number of cats in her experience were found very near home.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

TC Email and TNRM

The woman I spoke to about the cats in her place of worship said that she would not mind using her name. I called the office and the person in charge is away, but they sound fairly open to the idea at the moment. I hope that we can work something out. The lady has offered to sterilise the cats there as well.

I have just emailed the town council about the officer. The volunteers are understandably very upset and one of them just spoke to me and said she is going to her MP.

Difficult Property Manager again

The difficult Property Manager is at it again. She sent pest control down today to try and have the cats removed, despite the fact that the GM had agreed the volunteers would be contacted first. She claimed she had not gotten a directive yet. I told her that I had already emailed her and did not get a response, and she claimed that she had gotten my email and had written to her GM to clarify. In the meantime, she was still trapping cats.

She also continued about how cats that were sterilised were just taken to the AVA and not killed though I had explained this to her the last time. When I offered to ask someone from AVA to clarify with her, she refused. She also did not want to check with her other colleagues at the main branch of the TC.

I am going to write to her GM and to the MP (whom we happened to see outside the town council the other day) because her behaviour is unacceptable.

Mother & Kitten


Mother & Kitten
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Kittens - lots of people think they are cute, but a lot of other people also see their presence as showing that the cat population is growing. We find that the birth of kittens often leads to complaints - just as it did for the mediation we went to last night.

If you've done nothing wrong, why be afraid?

We often get people calling and saying that they have a problem with their neighbour but that they want to remain anonymous - for example, the mediation that Marcus, Michelle and I tried to do last night. I tried to no avail to convince the complainant that it was better if the complainant spoke to the neighbour himself because it really is better for neighbourly relations rather than getting someone else involved. However, he refused and said it might make relations between them sour. I find the opposite to usually be true. Imagine you're the person being complained about - now you wonder why the person could not just talk to you. Did they dislike you that much for example?

Someone also wrote in and said that she was concerned they were trapping cats at a religious place she attended. She was upset and wanted me to speak with the management However she also wanted to remain anonymous. I have been trying to tell her that it gives far more credibility to say that so-and-so wants to bring up something they are concerned with, rather than an 'anonymous worshipper'.

We will get involved in both situations, but I wonder why people don't just come right out and say they have a problem to whomever they are having a problem with. It does not need to be rude or confrontational. In both these cases for example, the parties could always say they are concerned and would like to help control the community cat population through sterilisation.

I sometimes think that some Singaporeans are a seething mass of frustration because they would rather let their frustration fester than talk to the other party. Eventually, the frustration will come to a boil.

Injured cat update

The injured cat that fell is doing better, but no one has come forward to say it is their cat. The caregiver subsequently found another cat in the same area, also bleeding. She is wondering if someone may be abusing cats in the area.

Trying to find a foster for the cat now.

Cat at Mediation


Cat at Mediation
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Marcus, Michelle and I went for a mediation last night. We were told the woman feeding the cats is only home past 9 pm, but though we got there around 10 pm, no one was there. One of the neighbours we ran into told us that she rarely came home before midnight.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Kudos!

One thing I was really impressed by today - Vegancat, Yskat and the group in their town council really pulled together when one of the new volunteers faced problems. I received emails and SMSes from quite a few concerned caregivers who are in the same TC but not the same area. Vegancat volunteered to let the caregiver have his slots if she needed them urgently. Yskat sent in suggestions and ideas. One other caregiver is going to help her trap and said she will take the new caregiver under her wing. Others wanted to know what they could do.

Good work all of you! You are an inspiration!

Talking to caregivers

I have been calling caregivers today because one of the town councils wants an updated list since the one they have is a few years old. Some people have disconnected their phones. One woman is very worried about giving her area but I told her to think about it and let me know.It turns out a police officer had told her it was illegal to feed cats and she has been frightened since then. I've told her to take the officer's name and number down in the future, or she can ask the officer to call me if it should happen again. She was wondering if it was okay to ask for the officer's number and I told her that if the officer did not give her his or her name and number, she should be suspicious. I told her of course to be polite.

I have to also say that I was quite touched that despite the obvious worry she had about the town council, she was fine about giving me her address so I could mail her something.

I spoke to another feeder who told me that she did not want to let the town council know. She said all of the town councils were untrustworthy and that she and her friend no longer wanted to work with them. Strangely enough, her friend was very amenable to giving her details and has been working with the town council. This feeder was also suspicious of other feeders, town councils, members of the public and others. I do know that there is some basis for her distrust, but we do need to try and work together. She kept complaining the other feeders were difficult, and many of them are, but everyone does need to try and put that aside and work together for the cats.

"Too Many Cats"

I'm sure some of you at least must have heard this complaint - that there are too many cats in an area. The town councils bring this up, or say that they have received a complaint about this. The problem of course is this - what is too many? Is too many one cat (as some complainants will say)?

For some people the threshold may be no cats. For others, more then twenty may be fine. What may be better is to take a subjective approach - see how many cats there are in the area when you start, and then you know whether the number has increased or decreased. For example, if the town council tells you there are too many cats, but the number of cats has actually decreased, then you know what to tell them. You might even want to get them to do a head count with you if you have a co-operative officer.

Afternoon Nap


CIMG0589
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This cat sleeps in his caregiver's yard. There's nothing nicer than to take a nap on a hot afternoon.

New area

The town council has agreed to work with the caregiver for the new area and will give her some time to sterilise the cats, which is great news. She's already gearing up to get them all done.

New TNRM area

An interesting situation arose yesterday and I was able to speak with the TC officer and volunteer today. A new caregiver has just started sterilising the cats in her area a month ago and has already done a quarter of the cats.

The TC has agreed to leave sterilised cats alone, but they want to remove the unsterilised ones because they say there have been complaints. The caregiver is willing to get them all done, and I think the TC is afraid that there will be 'too many cats'. I just spoke with the caregiver again and she is committed to getting all the cats done, so now I'll just need to speak with the TC again and see if they can give some lead time to handle the area.

Why I said that this is an interesting area is that a new caregiver stepping forward to say that they want to help out and is willing to undertake the project. Now we just need to convince the officer that this will NOT open the floodgate and mean complaints will multiply as well.

I think it's best to be open about this because if the caregiver is able to sterilise all the cats before they deploy pest control, TC may say this is not what they agreed to, and proceed to remove sterilised cats. It is best to be open with each other from the outset so that trust can be built between TC and caregivers.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

AGM Report

I was wondering why I hardly got any phone calls today and realised I forgot to switch on my phone - or rather I did, but for some reason it didn't turn on! When I turned it on just now, there were ten SMSes waiting.

I am working on the AGM report for this year's Annual General Meeting which is to be held in March (date not confirmed yet). I realised how many meeting we went for that did not amount to anything - it's hard to tell if something is going to pan out, so you need to go for these meetings, but they do take a lot of time. One woman we met for example told us she had a lot of ideas, but she didn't have the time to implement them. I remember telling her that while ideas were great, we needed people to actually do the work. We never heard from her again.

Removing cats does not work

The caregiver I spoke to earlier also mentioned to me that when she was on her rounds feeding the sterilised cats, a woman came up and asked her not to feed so close to the block. She said the cats were cauterwauling in the middle of the night.

The caregiver showed her that the cats she was feeding were sterilised. She suspects there are indoor cats which are let out at night, because there are only those two cats in the block and they have been there for a long time. She also agreed to move the feeding spot to accomodate the complainant.

The caregiver also told her that there used to be more cats in the area, but that many had been caught over the years. The woman agreed, but said town council had told her there was no point in trapping the cats any longer in that area, because cats kept coming back. So interestingly enough, they've stopped coming to trap the cats in the area because they've given up too.

Early Age Spay-Neuter

Animal People has put the video up on their website :-
Early Age Spay/Neuter

If you are squeamish, you may want to skip the video. This DOES show surgical technique so be prepared.

Cat in bushes


Cat in bushes
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Random Cat Photo

Irresponsible people

I was just speaking with a caregiver who has been sterilising all the cats in her estate. She said all the community cats are doing well and have all been sterilised, but that from time to time, people dump cats and these cats add to the population. Even if she sterilises them, these cats will then increase the number of cats there.

She has gone to these households and spoken with them. Jolanda has also gone with her before. I also offered to go down and flyer the block or talk to the residents. The caregiver however said that she thinks this is of not much use - she said these people do not want to sterilise their cats and would rather just dump the kittens as they see no benefits to sterilisation. She said she would try and sterilise these indoor-outdoor cats for them first and ask for help if she could not get through still. She estimates at least ten families are dumping in just one block in her area. She has already sterilised some of these cats for free - and been verbally abused for it. Once Jolanda and her were left banging on a door for half an hour because the woman did not want her cat back after sterilisation. Another woman complained that her cat's ear was now snipped.

She also said that when the pest control come, they always round up the sterilised cats downstairs that she manages, but that the problematic cats are the ones upstairs. She found three different cats defecating upstairs in this block. She asked why the town council did not just speak with these families, but when she asked, she was told to report them to HDB.

This really brings home the fact that we're not going to crack down on the number of cats without really working on the problem of abandonment. If I am an irresponsible owner, I would ALREADY be owning cats and letting my cats run in and out, contrary to what HDB says about irresponsible people owning cats if the rule is relaxed. If HDB comes I can argue the cat isn't mine and I won't get fined. There is no impetus for me to keep the cat indoors at all or to get it sterilised.

If however you make it easy for me to keep a cat - get it sterilised, keep it indoors at all times, and not allow it to make a nuisance, but I can safely keep a cat without repercussions (and without getting fined), I think most people would be MORE responsible and follow the guidelines. It's not that much to do for peace of mind. Just as with the no feeding notices, you find more people feeding worse than if you just teach people how to feed properly but to allow them to do so.

At the same time, people who ARE responsible can own cats without being afraid of being fined because they are doing everything right. People who are also responsible will be more likely to come forward and adopt if the law is changed to make cats legal in HDB flats.

Zzzzzzz


Zzzzzzz
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

When do the noisy humans go home??

Tigger and Pinky


Tigger and Pinky
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

After dinner last night, some of us dropped in on Tigger and Pinky. As you can see, Pinky thinks we're outstaying our welcome.

Making a police report

I've spoken to two people over the last few days, who have told me that they tried to make police reports about cats that were abused and were brushed off. One was told that he needed to have a photograph of the person abusing the cat even though he witnessed it. The other person was just told there was no need to file a report.

I have written about this before, but remember, abuse of an animal IS a crime. You CAN file a report, just as with any crime. None of the welfare groups - CWS, SPCA or any of us can file the report for you. We would certainly appreciate being informed, but only the police can start the ball rolling if you want to report it as a crime.

Abuse or abandonment is punishable by a fine of up to $10000 and/or a year's jail, which goes to show how serious a crime it is.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Farewell Dinner

We're having a farewell dinner for Judith and Jolanda tonight because both of them are leaving soon.

Monitor Lizard Fight


Monitor Lizard Fight
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

We talk about cats being territorial - but we saw two monitor lizards fighting over territory yesterday too. It's very interesting to see similar behaviour in different animals.

Changing people's behaviour, not killing the cats

I'm filling out some surveys by students today on different aspects in relation to community cats and donations to animal welfare among others. One interesting thing that struck me as I was filling out one of the questionnaires was this - I wonder how many cat complaints actually arise because people cannot or do not want to talk to their neighbours.

The thing is that for people who complain about cats, something CAN be done about them. When you complain to town council, the cats are just removed. If you don't want to confront your neighbour though (and a surprising number of people are unwilling to do so), then you can't change your neighbour's attitude.

Of course, I am discounting those people who have tried to talk to their neighbours and whose neighbours are not responsive (and even then CWS can help with mediation in cases like those). However, if your neighbour is feeding messily, or letting their cat out of the flat, why not first try talking to THEM? If you can change their behaviour, then the problem goes away. Trapping the cats does not solve the problem, because if your neighbour's behaviour is causing the problem (for example, letting their cats out, or feeding in an irresponsible manner), then the problem will reoccur because your neighbour will continue doing what they have been doing all along.

Removing cats and killing them has a very short-lived effect because new cats move in due to the vacuum effect. Getting to the root of the problem will get rid of the problem, without having to get rid of the cats.

An added bonus in some cases is a better relationship with your neighbour because you went and talked to them - not complained behind their backs to the authorities.

Monitor Lizard


Monitor Lizard
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

We saw this monitor lizard sitting just off a sluice gate.

Sungei Buloh Walk


Sungei Buloh Walk
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Otterman kindly offered to guide a group of us from CWS into Sungei Buloh yesterday afternoon. It was a gorgeous walk through the mangroves, and Otterman was an excellent guide! We all learnt a lot from him! Thanks Otterman!

Team from the Women's Weekly shoot


Team from the Women's Weekly shoot
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Andy, Sara and Alicia whose job was to try and make me look good! :) They were really nice and professional, and arranged everything.

If a strand of hair was out of place, or my shirt was wrinkled to one side, one of them would fix it. I was just to sit there and smile. I felt like a movie star - the only thing is that my face hurt from smiling so much at the end of it.

Alicia's family looks after community cats and Sara's cats are all ex-community cats too!

Makeup


Makeup
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I had the photo shoot on Saturday morning - look how much makeup they brought! The makeup artist was amused when I told her that this was the fourth time in my life I had full makeup put on!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Not her cat

The woman who lost her cat called - it's not her cat which was found. Now we need to find a foster for the cat, as it can hopefully be released in a few days, and none of the fosters are available.

Cat that fell update

One of the volunteers walked around the block again to see if she could find the owner of the cat that fell. It appears that now it might have come from a flat on the second floor. The volunteer managed to track a woman down who said she lost her cat two weeks ago.

I have sent her the photo of the cat to see if she recognises it. The cat wasn't doing so well yesterday, but is eating and drinking today. I hope it recovers, and we manage to find it a home somewhere.

Cats with caregiver


Cats with caregiver
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I saw these cats with their caregiver today. I had to collect namecards (I meet so many people that my namecards disappear pretty fast) and then went to the bank and dropped the renwals by Tarsier Girl.

Cats being lured up

I spoke to one of the caregivers this morning. People had been complaining about defecation on the 6th, 14th and 20th floors. She walked around and to her surprise found that while one was a new cat that she immediately brought to be sterilised, two of the cats were community cats from downstairs that she had gotten sterilised! Someone had promptly lured them up and was feeding them upstairs. The good news is that the cats didn't disappear after all. The bad news is that with the people feeding as they are, the cats are going to get into trouble.

Plant Update

The woman with the dug up plant wrote back. She said since she can't 'talk sense' to the cat, she'll just make her plant look silly. That's nice of her because she's not asking for the cat to be removed. She said she does not dislike the cat at all, but just really likes her plant.

Cats going upstairs

Sigh - one of the people whom I dropped Reppers off to, said that the cat had stopped defecating in the soil, but that the soil was still being dug up. She also said that the cat was still seen all the time on the floor below hers though they removed the box the cat used to sleep in. I've suggested she try pebbles and chopsticks, to keep the cat out.

The main thing of course is that people have to stop being so stubborn about feeding cats upstairs. The cat was clearly sitting outside someone's home and I explained to them that feeding the cat upstairs was endangering the cat's life. I'm not sure why people are so reluctant to keep the cat indoors, or just feed it in the void deck. I suppose for some people, they want the pleasure without the responsibility.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Trapping a lost cat

I dropped a cat trap by someone's home today - they have lost a cat, and they are going to try and leave a cat trap out. Poor cat - it's apparently very timid. The man and his absolutely adorable little boy are very worried about the cat and have been walking around looking for him.

Also went by the post office to pick up mail.

Importance of Management


Cats and plants
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I had a long conversation with a woman who travels around trapping cats for sterilisation today. Apparently, she and another woman often go around and sterilise the cats. Yesterday, she came by an area and realised they were about to trap the cats in the area because a cat was defecating upstairs.

She called and said that she thought the best thing to do was to remove the cat that was defecating there, but I told her that while removing the cat would help right now, that the main thing to do was to ensure the person feeding the cat,or whose cat it was coulld be found. On a wider scale, it was to ensure there was good management in the area.

She and her friend are good hearted and trying to sterilise, but then they leave and the place goes back to its usual bad state - food left behind by irresponsible feeders and complaints that are not dealt with. The cats are then caught and killed.

When CWS first started, some of the first committee did that, they started running around and sterilising cats every night in different areas. Firstly, they got tired after a year of this, in different areas all over and secondly, they realised that when they went back, cats had disappeared after getting trapped.

What we have come to realise is that its of utmost importance to work with residents in the area to set up a good management programme. Without someone there who can be the liaison with the town council, the cats' days are numbered once complaints come in.

One of the feeders today at the town council meeting complained no one from the TC called her to tell her there were complaints. As I told her, if the town council does not know you are there, how are they to contact you?

Some people are nervous about talking to TCs, and that's where CWS can come in to help, but someone there has to be responsible.

The woman who called me agreed and said she would talk to her partner and see if they can find someone in the area they're sterilising to be in charge as neither of them live there.

Window


Window
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Catdonna asked, so I'm posting this. This is my window. It was closed when I took this particular shot to get a better view of the wire mesh.

Town Council Meeting

The meeting with the town council went quite well. They said that as far as possible, they will always call up the caregivers when there are problems as long as they know that there are problems in the estate. They said that they are willing to work with the caregivers and see what can be done.

On the way out, I saw one of the Property Managers there, who asked me why I was done. I told him that I had just been to seen the town council because of some problems with one of the other Property Managers. He expressed surprise and asked why I had not asked her to just check with the main office, and I told him that I had!

I spent another hour talking to the caregivers. One of the caregivers complained that she had gone to see the MP and that he had not been nice to her in the past at a Meet the People's Session. The MP then actually arrived at the town council coincidentally and spoke with some of the other caregivers and myself as well. He assured the caregivers that this was a situation that everyone wanted to work together on.

Unfortunately the feeder turned her back on the MP and refused to talk to him. I do understand she might have had a bad experience, but I was trying to tell her that it was important to perhaps voice her feelings instead of being angry and not working with the MP.

Sometimes, bad situations may arise - some may occur due to misunderstandings, some may occur because one party is unreasonable, others happen because both just don't seem to see the same point of view. However, try to set it aside if the other party makes an overture of some kind. It is important to try and work together instead of dwelling on the past.

Meeting with Town Council

I'm going down to meet the town council with some of the caregivers today. We're hoping that they will be amenable to working with the caregivers.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

E-consultation Paper on Charities and IPCs

That is a really long and dry paper. Also, the language used is quite unusual - for example, what is the 'people sector'? I think they just mean lay people in general, but it begs the question, as opposed to what? The cat sector? The mutant alien sector? :)

If you want to give feedback - and the more the merrier, here it is :-

E-Consultation Paper

Photo Shoot

Pamela just called and they're going to feature me along the other women in Women's Weekly. I found out there's a photo shoot though! GULP!

I don't mind meeting town councils, talking to angry complainants, but photo shoot - and make up? Now THAT'S scary! :)

Mediation FAQ on ACA website

Alley Cat Allies posted the Mediation FAQ on their website. Here it is Resources

Look under "Taking it to the Next Level".

Reading up

It's a good idea to do some reading up if you are looking after community cats. Everyone has to learn and there's no shame in asking questions, but reading up does give you some basic understanding and knowledge, which is always good to have.

One thing for example is how to tell a kitten's age - a feeder wrote in today to say that she found a newborn and that it was abandoned. She said that the other feeders were trying to feed it milk, but it wouldn't drink and that it was eating canned food. She was really worried.

I explained that this meant the kitten was weaned, and that if it not weaned, it would not be able to eat at all. She wrote back to say that perhaps it was very hungry. After a few more emails, it turned out the kitten was a month or older. If she had read up a bit, she might have saved herself the panic.

There are lot of good resources - your library, the bookstore, or even the Internet.

Sunarty


Sunarty
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I also met Sunarty who interviewed me for a school project she's doing.

Good luck!

Update on Demanding

Just before I left to meet Pamela, Jolanda called. She spoke with the vet at the clinic where the cat died after the sterilisation. The cat was not heavily pregnant,and looked fine (but scared) going in. She woke up after the surgery, but crashed during recovery. The vet said they checked everything and believe that they have not been remiss in what they did.

The vet did feel very bad though because the woman was so upset. The woman is now demanding that the cat be cremated and sent to her and the vet will do so at their own cost.

The adoption volunteer then wrote in to say that there was someone else who wrote in this morning to say that someone had written in to check on her cats posted on the board. She mentioned putting them back on the street if they are not adopted. I wrote to check with her if these were community cats as she was a bit vague on this and there was no reply. She mentioned the cats are in the yard of her house to the adoption volunteer and mentioned something about keeping the males in the front yard and the females in the back.

She said to the volunteer she needed cheap slots - but she wanted the cats to be intact and so she wanted to screen the vets first. She also said she did not want the ovaries removed and wanted the Fallopian tubes tied! She said that she wanted to make sure the vets did it humanely and properly.

Firstly, vets always remove the ovaries - for one thing, it helps to prevent ovarian cancer. Secondly, the volunteer told her that all the vets are governed by the AVA and SVA, and they certainly will not allow a licensed vet to be carrying out operations that are inhumane.

CWS is also monitoring the situation - if anyone ever calls to tell us that a cat dies during surgery, we do call and find out why. If we ever feel that the number of cats dying is unacceptable, we will not work with that vet any longer.

However, as Vegancat mentioned, these are subsidised slots. This does NOT mean your cats get sub-standard treatment - what it DOES mean is that a lot of extras cannot be done. For example, you can get full blood work done before the operation, ensure the cat is sterilised, use different anaesthesia, etc but this will cost substantially more. Not everyone chooses to do it anyway even if they are full paying clients.

Furthermore, if these are community cats, they generally do not have the same standard of health as home cats. For one thing, many are unvaccinated. Unfortunately, this also means they are more susceptible to infections and the like. In an ideal world, it would be great to get everything done - but for many caregivers it is already very expensive - so sterilisation is the best thing you CAN do for your cat because it raises the level of their health.

One thing that annoyed me about both these cases is that both people were threatening to put the cats back on the street, but suddenly, in the first case, the dead cat is a 'beautiful and special' cat. Perhaps she might have considered not dumping it then.

As for the other person, she is also considering dumping them back on the street, but when it came to sterilisation, she wants the best possible service for them.

This is not in any way to imply that community cats deserve worse service, but that if these people loved the cats so much, perhaps they might consider keeping them.

Pamela


Pamela
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This is Pamela who is doing an article for Women's Weekly. She met me this afternoon for a chat to see if it might be suitable for the article she's writing. It was a pleasure to meet you Pamela!

Keeping your word to TCs

With all the rush of the last few days, I forgot to mention that the GM of the town council with the rude Property Manager called to say that he would meet us tomorrow. I spoke with the feeders in the area. One of them did not want to meet the town council the last time when the caregiver and I went to meet them last, so the town council had no idea she was in charge there.

At the same time, she mentioned she had sterilised less than half the cats she is looking after, though she has been feeding them for two years. She mentioned that it was too tiring to carry a cat trap down among other things. They trapped one of her unsterilised cats last week and she got angry understandably, but I told her there was much more she could do.

The thing is this - the town council cannot contact you or work with you if they don't know whom you are! You may be doing the best job in terms of sterilisations, but there may still be complaints, and the town council may not know whom to contact.

They also need to know that you are able to help with mediations and sterilisations.

Some people get complacent and think that since their area is now 'registered', they can stop sterilising. Just as you want your TC officer to keep their word, you have to keep yours. Make sure you sterilise all the cats there. This was one problem we spotted in some areas - the volunteers decided their cats were safe as the TC didn't come and trap and so they just stopped sterilising the cats.

The main component in ANY relationship is trust - and the same has to work with the TC and you. If the TC for some reason goes back on their word, then you can show that you kept your end of the bargain, and there's no reason they should have done that.

Window Mesh

Here is what Catdonna did with her windows :-

Window Decoration

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Vacuum effect at Work

When I was dropping off merchandise yesterday at the Cat Whisperer (t-shirts are now in stock again!), I met a woman who was telling me about her neighbour who has been picking cats off the street and sterilising them. However, instead of releasing them, she has been moving them into her home. According to the woman I met, the neighbour has 100 cats now, and she says the cats keep coming! She asked why cats keep appearing in the neighbourhood when they are removed.

I explained to her about the vacuum effect and asked her to please tell her neighbour.

The cat that fell


The cat that fell
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This is the poor cat that fell, recuperating at the vet. He's an unsterilised male cat, about a year old.

Demanding

Poor Jolanda - yes she's still here, but not for much longer! Sometimes with requests like the one below, we can't blame her for leaving.

Someone wrote in to say that they needed an urgent slot for a pregnant cat to be sterilised and Jolanda arranged it specially as this person said that she needed the slot ASAP. Jolanda asked also if this was a community cat but the person said it was not, but that if it was not sterilised, it might go back to being a community cat, because her parents might object.

The cat was sent in for sterilisation today, and unfortunately it died. Jolanda called the clinic immediately to try and find out what happened and spoke to the nurse, but the vet was busy. She's still trying to get to the bottom of this. Now the person is blaming the vet, saying that they should not have sterilised the cat. She also said she should not have been so cheap, and now her precious cat is dead. She is also blaming the Society - for what I'm not so sure, because Jolanda bent backwards to try and help her out. She's now claining that 'other vets' would not have sterilised the cat. Which other vets remain uncertain.

Fallen cat

If you live up in the West and wonder why it drizzled today, it was because I was at the warehouse picking up traps!

A volunteer and I went down after to try and find the owner of the cat that fell from a block of flats. We spoke to the woman whom other residents pointed out as owning the cats, but she showed us her cats, and said it was not her cat. She also said that another woman had come down two weeks ago and accused her of stealing her cat because it was missing. She mentioned also that two days ago, her bamboo pole had snapped as if something had fallen from a height and broken it. This coincides with when the cat fell.

The poor cat had been sitting bleeding on the ledge since Sunday. The volunteer and I left notes under every door above that unit, so hopefully the person who lost the cat will call down.

I also just spoke to the foster who was helping the neighbour post her cats. She mentioned the neighbour had just said she wanted her cats sent away, and that she was trying to help. Now perhaps the neighbour is having second thoughts. Some people (like the neighbour) may feel that every adoptive home is good - in this case she said she wanted the cat to go to a condominium because they would take better care of the cats!

Declawed cat


Declawed cat
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This is the other declawed cat - when the other cat was adopted out, it lost a lot of weight according to the owner because it missed the other cat so much.

Cats going into adoptive homes

One of the adoption volunteers and I went to see the declawed cats in the post below. Someone posted them for adoption and the adoption volunteer mentioned that it was especially important to make sure that they went to good homes, in view of the fact that they were declawed. The foster said she was posting for a neighbour who was unable to keep them, and who had no internet access and she would do the necessary screening.

The adoption volunteer spoke with the foster about the new adopter, and was a little concerned especially as this was a declawed cat but the foster said she had met the adopter and was very pleased with her. As this is a public adoption board, and these are not our cats, we do not have a say on where they go, and also the foster had met the adopter and said she was a good adopter. A few days later, the new adopter wrote in and said the cat had been lost for two days and that she wanted to adopt another cat. She mentioned that she was sure the cat was being looked after by angels.

The adoption volunteer immediately called the foster who was shocked as she had not been informed. The volunteer said she needed the address and would go down and comb the area. The foster was speechless and offered to help. Before they could go down, the adopter contacted the volunteer to say the cat had been found under the bed.

The foster then said that her neighbour had another four cats to adopt out - ALL declawed. The adoption volunteer and I went down to speak with the owner today. It seemed that she had not really been involved with the screening. The foster meant well and wanted to help out her neighbour and the foster thought the cats would be going to good homes. We tried to convince her to keep her cats because they are very quiet and good cats. Unfortunately she has a new grandson on the way, and she is worried she cannot cope.

We emphasised to her that not every home is a good home and that cats like hers, are really not going to be that difficult to look after. She was under the impression that the cat that had been adopted out went to a good home. She did not know it had gone missing. I am going to talk to the foster again - adoption to another home which is not as good, does not make the cat happier, nor the owner. The owner in fact said she would rather have the cats back then send them to somewhere where they weren't happy.

Cats hiding


Cats hiding
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

These cats were hiding when we visited. The adoption volunteer and I went down to take a look because we heard that a woman wanted to adopt her declawed cats out. These were two of the cats.

Shoes outside home


Shoes outside home
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Another really busy day. First stop, the woman who had the cats in a small carrier in her home. A volunteer and I stopped by as her phone has been disconnected.

We saw that at least one female cat was out of the carrier,and there were three new kittens running around. She seemed unsure as to their age and the like. She has agreed to get them sterilised. She would not let us in to see the other males, but the cats we could see looked in fairly good condition.

Cats falling

A woman called yesterday to say that she saw a badly injured cat, but she could not take it to the vet. Fortunately there were volunteers who manage community cats in the surrounding vicinity and they went down. The cat was apparently on a ledge and bleeding badly.

As they were talking to residents in the area, they were told that this is not the first time that the cat has fallen, and that it belongs to a family on the fifth floor. They rushed it to the vet, and I just spoke to the vet who said that it has fractured spine, but should recover fully.

Another caregiver also wrote in yesterday to say that a family living above her also had a number of kittens fall to their death. Unfortunately, this family doesn't seem to particularly care about the cats, and keep asking people to take their existing cats away as well. They have also dumped their cats downstairs, giving problems to the caregiver, whose colony is actually fully sterilised.

It's alarming that some people are so lackluster about looking after their cats that a cat falling does not seem to concern them. It's actually quite easy to wire up your windows and doors so your cat cannot get out.

At the pet shop yesterday where I dropped off the merchandise, I had a conversation with a woman who was telling me that it wasn't possible to keep cats in houses with gardens, and I was trying to convince her that it can, and has been done successfully. Wiring can be done on windows in flats and houses. Some people even wire up their gardens.

I have to go for a followup visit this morning for another case.

Exodus


Exodus
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Exodus after the session. We had to announce which organisation we came from, and after that, a few people used us as an example of smaller charities.

Interpreter's Booth at Charity Briefing


Interpreter's Booth at Charity Briefing
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

The briefing was absolutely packed. There must have been easily a thousand people there. There had been some criticism that the feedback was geared only towards people who spoke English so they had interpreters too.

One major problem I see is that all the feedback is tailored towards larger charities. One of the recommendations made is that they want anyone who is a third party non-commercial fund raiser (basically ANYONE who raises funds for a charity - which might include you asking your friends to donate) to submit a statement of accounts to the charity. The panel kept mentioning banks and organisations raising funds, and I made the point that with a Society like us, anyone who wants to say, hold a small dinner and give us the proceeds will be penalised. We don't have large organisations giving us the proceeds from their family day for example, which might be substantial. This will discourage people from donating to us.

Most people were unhappy with this recommendation so the council will re-look it.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Briefing

Just got back from the MCYS briefing. It was quite interesting though I think there was a lot of emphasis on the same requirements for many charities, though small charities face quite a different kettle of fish. Will write more tomorrow!

Busy day

Really busy day.I just got back and MCYS called Liang Tong this afternoon to say there is a charity and IPC session on the new guidelines to be held tonight at 7:30 pm, so I have to rush out in a bit to go for that.

Cat in corridor


Cat in corridor
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I was told there was a cat defecating in the corridor and I went and flyered a few floors. The town council was quite sure that it was someone's pet cat from the second floor, but when I spoke to residents and walked around, apparently people on the third and fourth floor were all letting their cats out. I found three families doing this.

Flyering and Mediation

Heading out to do a flyering, drop merchandise and brochures and newsletters. More later.

Working together with other caregivers

I've written quite a lot about working with the town councils, MCs, and the like, but it's really important to work with other caregivers in your estate too. Many people have different ways of dealing with a situation, and you may for example, feel that someone else may not be doing things very well.

I just got off the phone with some caregivers. The pest control had come down and was about to trap the cats because there had been complaints about food left all over the place. Instead of working together, the feeders then started to fight. One feeder accused the other of being the one littering. It got so bad that the other feeder told the supervisor to just trap all the cats and remove them.

A third person was there, a caregiver who was trying to help, so she called me and I spoke to both feeders.

I told the first feeder that as she did not have independent proof, we could all argue till the cows came home. I suggested that she just get a camera and take photos of whomever it was who was making a mess. She agreed.

I told the second feeder that I was not accusing her of anything and that fighting and asking for the cats to be removed didn't help the cats. She apologised and said she lost her temper. I told her that we need to work together and not fight otherwise the town council would also wonder if it was worth working with people who could not put their differences aside.

Both feeders agreed and decided to try and put aside their differences for now. None of the cats were caught as the supervisor agreed to try and work with them to find out whom was littering.

Indochine


Indochine
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Marcus, Michelle and I went for the cat blogger's get together and met with 5 Cat Style, Flyer, Catdonna and Cat. Nice to have met some of you for the first time.

Mediation

It's really important to be calm when dealing with town councils. I had a complaint that one of the officers said that she did not want to talk to a feeder there anymore because she is very difficult. I can quite believe it as the feeder tends to take offence when none is intended, and gets upset very easily. Please remember, if you have trouble keeping your cool, please consider getting someone else to mediate.

Cassie

Cassie

This is Cassie, who was adopted through CWS' adoption board. She was just named About.com's Cat of the Week. Congrats to Cassie and to Patricia who adopted her!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Cat involved in Sting Operation

Thanks to Tasier Girl for letting me know about this story.

Undercover Agent in Fur

"I'm not feeding the cat"

We also spoke to another family. We told them we were down because we were concerned the cats would be caught. The family at first denied feeding the cats, but then complained that their neighbour was being unreasonable, because it was not their cat and they were just feeding it when it came up. We told them there was nothing wrong with feeding it, but that it was prudent to feed in the void deck and to get the other cat sterilised. We emphasised that we just wanted to make sure that the cats weren't removed because of complaints.

The father of the family said that he fed the cat when it came up but it wasn't his cat and that he might just take the cat and dump it somewhere else. We explained that this was not what anyone wanted, but that we wanted to make sure that the cats weren't killed. The father didn't seem too concerned, but his daughter came and spoke with us. She asked if we singled them out and why because other people were also feeding the cats. We showed her the flyer and that we were handing it out to everyone. We hope that she'll be able to stop the father from feeding the cat upstairs.

The caregiver was also concerned when we told her. She said this cat is already being fed in the void deck and that she hoped the rest of them would stop feeding the cat and jeopardising it by doing so.

Follow the cat


Follow the cat
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Tarsier Girl and I had just spoken to a woman who said she was not feeding the cats though she had a bowl outside her door. We turned around and saw the two cats sleeping in the corner. This boy followed us back to the woman's flat and stood on the door step and meowed. She said he was a good cat.

Sleeping on a shelf


Sleeping on a shelf
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Tarsier Girl and I saw this cat sleeping on a shelf next to the ginger and white cat.

More cats being fed upstairs

Tarsier Girl and I went down to attend to a mediation right after. A complainant wrote in this morning to say that a cat had come up to the second floor and scared his girlfriend last night. He has written in before, and his girlfriend is apparently very frightened of cats. This has been going on for a long time, and the town council and the Society have both gone down to speak with his neighbours who let their cat out into the corridor.

Last night, as his girlfriend was going home, he said the cat came up and looked very aggressively at his girlfriend. His girlfriend was so frightened that she ran back into his flat. The cat was, I suspect, cauterwauling, and another neighbour came out and threatened to beat the cat up. The complainant calmed the neighbour down, and also called the police because they did not know how to remove the cat. He said seven policemen came down but none dared handle the cat, so they banged on the door till finally they could get the neigbour to take the cat back into the house.

I spoke to one of the caregivers there. It turned out that they removed one of the dominant male cats, because he was too territorial and scratched someone who was walking a dog. Since then, new cats have been coming into the area because of the vacuum effect. Furthermore, the caregiver was quite sure someone's cat was on heat and cauterwauling. The cat was also attracting unsterilised males into the area. She identified it as the same cat the complainant was talking about.

Tarsier Girl and I flyered the floor. We did not see the black cat that both caregiver and complainant mentioned. People denied they were feeding though there was a food bowl outside one flat. We assured people that feeding was not illegal,and that it was fine to do it, but to please feed downstairs, and to sterilise. The woman I spoke to said that she had left the bowl there last week for her daughter's visiting dog, but I saw the same bowl in October. The cat also ran up to her doorstep and meowed. At the end of the day, we suspect at least four families are feeding the cats on the same floor.

More cats being fed upstairs

Tarsier Girl and I went down to attend to a mediation right after. A complainant wrote in this morning to say that a cat had come up to the second floor and scared his girlfriend last night. He has written in before, and his girlfriend is apparently very frightened of cats. This has been going on for a long time, and the town council and the Society have both gone down to speak with his neighbours who let their cat out into the corridor.

Last night, as his girlfriend was going home, he said the cat came up and looked very aggressively at his girlfriend. His girlfriend was so frightened that she ran back into his flat. The cat was, I suspect, cauterwauling, and another neighbour came out and threatened to beat the cat up. The complainant calmed the neighbour down, and also called the police because they did not know how to remove the cat. He said seven policemen came down but none dared handle the cat, so they banged on the door till finally they could get the neigbour to take the cat back into the house.

I spoke to one of the caregivers there. It turned out that they removed one of the dominant male cats, because he was too territorial and scratched someone who was walking a dog. Since then, new cats have been coming into the area because of the vacuum effect. Furthermore, the caregiver was quite sure someone's cat was on heat and cauterwauling. The cat was also attracting unsterilised males into the area. She identified it as the same cat the complainant was talking about.

Tarsier Girl and I flyered the floor. We did not see the black cat that both caregiver and complainant mentioned. People denied they were feeding though there was a food bowl outside one flat. We assured people that feeding was not illegal,and that it was fine to do it, but to please feed downstairs, and to sterilise. The woman I spoke to said that she had left the bowl there last week for her daughter's visiting dog, but I saw the same bowl in October. The cat also ran up to her doorstep and meowed. At the end of the day, we suspect at least four families are feeding the cats upstairs.

Feeding cats

Tarsier Girl and I met for me to pass her the renewal letters and donations. We then went to the bank, and while I was cashing in the money, the cashier asked me what CWS did. I explained that we work for the promotion of sterilisation and she started telling me about the problem in her block. She said the cats were making a lot of noise, and that there were new kittens born all the time. She said one of the neighbours on the ground floor was feeding all the cats.

I gave her my number and asked her to get her neighbour to give me a call, but she kept saying that these weren't her neighbour's cats, and that she was just feeding them. I tried to explain to her that it was really important for her neighbour to get the cats sterilised. She might be fairly understanding, but not everyone else would be.

This is a perennial problem. No one thinks that the cats are 'theirs' or their responsibility. People misguidedly think that they're being kind by feeding the cats, but this leads to complaints when they're not properly managed, and then the cats are rounded up and killed.

Staring at the Camera


Staring at the Camera
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

"Cat" Problems

Vegancat posted a comment on one of the earlier entries which I strongly agree with. He said that a lot of people don't realise the problem is not with the cats but with the people. For example, when people complain about 'dirty' feeding, it's not the cats' fault that people are leaving food around. Rounding up the cats and killing them, without changing the mindset of the people is not going to help - new cats will just come in, and they will continue to leave food around and create a mess. If however,these feeders can be educated and change the way they feed, then the problem will solve itself.

Same thing with people feeding the cats upstairs, or people who let their home cats out, and the cat defecates outside someone's home. Removing the cat really won't work in this case if you trap all the community cats and kill them when the cat that may be causing the problem may be someone's pet! The defecation problem does not go away and the complainant is still angry.

People also get upset with the cats if they cauterwaul or fight, or if they breed prolifically. Again, this isn't something that the cats can do anything about - but if their human caregivers get them sterilised, then these problems will all stop. Why the cats for something over which they have no control? Removing them again, leads to the vacuum effect kicking in, and more new cats will come in again, leading to the same problems reoccuring.

We have to make a conscious decision to really try and solve the root of the problem, and stop taking away the consequences later. This is akin to say treating the symptoms of an illness without going to the underlying cause of the illness itself. It will just keep recurring if the cause is not removed.

Hutch hiding


Hutch hiding
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Hutch was just adopted a week ago, and this is Hutch hiding when people came to visit. It is normal that your cats may be unused to others, or even to you for the first few days and spend most of the time hiding. Give them lots of love and time, and they'll come around. Don't force them or make them frightened by chasing them around or you'll achieve the opposite effect.

Hutch posing


Hutch posing
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

By the end of the evening, Hutch was out and posing for photos!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Difficult Property Manager

I spoke to a really difficult town council property manager this afternoon for more than an hour. She kept saying that feeders attract other feeders and that cats attract feeders in the first place. This will lead to the community cat population exploding out of control because then more and more cats and people will move in. She refused to listen to TNRM. She also mentioned she had complaints, but though she said she would, she has never reflected any of the complaints back to us. I asked her how the complaints were to be solved if she just kept quiet about it.

She also said that she did not want to support sterilised cats, because there might be people who don't like the cats and may not want any cats in the estate. After clarifying, it turned out this was not a complaint she actually had, but one she was afraid that she MIGHT have eventually.

She also asked why people didn't spend their money on children or the elderly and why they spent so many money on cats. I told her that with all due respect, I didn't think it was her place to tell people in her constituency what they ought or ought not to be spending their money on.

She said that the people in her estate did not want the cats killed and she felt people did not like animals killed. I explained that cats that were caught would be sent to be killed, and she said she did not know that. I told her to check with the AVA but she then changed the topic and said that not all the cats ended up in the AVA. She said that she did not know how to deal with people who wanted the cats removed - I told her one simple was to tell them that since they didn't want the cats killed, they might consider TNRM. She then said she wanted to retract her statement. She also asked that the cats be taken somewhere else or perhaps shipped out of Singapore.

She also said that people who complained to the MP and higher up authorities would have better chances of getting their complaints listened to. She denied that she had agreed not to remove the volunteer's community cats, then agreed that she had when I read my memo of the meeting back to her.

At the end of the day, it's a good idea to just speak with the General Manager and not to her because she isn't very helpful at all.

Kirin


Kirin
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This is Kirin, whom I met today. His caregiver tells me that he likes durian - and that he can tell the difference between different grades of durian by smell!

Renewals coming in


Renewals coming in
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Manja cat is helping with all the processing, and I'm separating the cheques and letters for her this morning.

Thanks everyone for renewing! Your contributions really help!

WSPA sign


WSPA sign
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

WSPA just sent us this to hang outside our office door - guess I should hang it on my bedroom door maybe? :)

They're having a symposium for all member societies in June in London.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Cats indoors

I dropped by the Scarecrow to the young lady who needs it. Her cats are lovely - and look so contented sleeping at home. Unfortunately, one of them wanders out and gets into fights. She does not live alone however and cannot screen up the windows.

It is a good idea to keep your cat indoors though because they'll live longer. An indoor cat lives an average of 11 years, an outdoor cat, 3 and a half. Having said that, there are community cats that live for a long time - it really is about the care and how safe your neighbourhood is. In Singapore though, because people live so close to each other, it's easier for your cat to say upset your neighbour, so it is prudent to keep indoor cats in.

Dropped by to pick up some items donated, and then went to pick up mail. We got a ton of renewals! Thank you!

Siamese cat


Siamese cat
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This lovely cat is being fed by a young lady in her neighbourhood.

Being Calm when dealing with authorities

Sometimes it can be difficult to work with the town council, but please do try. I spoke with an officer just now who was mentioning some problems in her area. She was very reluctant to give me her email address, and then told me it was because she really did not want to speak to the feeder there. She said the woman had come down and cried and threatened and she would rather not deal with her. I have said that I will be the go-between in this case.

On the feeder's side, she was of course understandably emotional if her cats were being caught. However she said she did not want to have anything more to do with the town council either. This made it very difficult because then if there were complaints, they would trap the cats. She admitted she did sometimes get emotional. She also said that she did not want to get on the wrong side of the town council but she knew that she had.

At the end of the day, do try your best to keep your calm. It is for the cat's benefit, so no matter how frustrating or upsetting it is, close your eyes and try and calm yourself if you feel like getting angry. If you do not think you can do it, then please try and find someone else to help with mediation.

It always makes more of an impact if you are calm and professional and willing to work to solve problems. Facts and statistics are your tools - emotions usually are not. If not, the town council or other authorities can write you off as being unable to manage the problem and being too emotional to be able to handle it.

Components of the Scarecrow


Components of the Scarecrow
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Someone wrote in to borrow the Scarecrow because another cat is coming into her garden to fight with her cat. The first time I'm loaning the Scarecrow out!

The only problem of course is that the Scarecrow is going to spray anything that moves - which will include the person's home cat. It's always good to keep your cat indoors.

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Removing Community cats by adoption

A lady who fostered for CWS before emailed me to ask about fostering a cat for adoption. She saw a neighbourhood cat in her neighbourhood and thought it might have a good shot at adoption. She didn't want to leave it on the street, so thought it might be a good idea to find it a home, so she asked if she should take it in.

While I can understand the anxiety that every caregiver faces (or even people who see a cute cat whom they walk by every day) that the cat may not be there tomorrow, picking up cats for adoption really isn't the answer. Cats on the street are subject to abuse, accidents, fights and trapping by pest control, but at the same time, if they have caregivers, many cats on the street live a very good life indeed. Having seen some cats in foster/adoptive homes, I would be tempted to say that some of these cats have better lives then their counterparts who are sometimes kept in far from ideal conditions.

Also, removing the cat just means that another cat will move in because of the vacuum effect. It's an endless cycle then of picking up cats and putting them up for adoption.

If there were endless homes for adoption, again, this might be an option. However, the reality is that there are just far more cats than homes for the cats. If you want to adopt the cat yourself, then do take it in, but bear in mind that if you intend to look for an adoptive home, you may not find one and you may end up with the cat permanently. Also, not every adoptive home is a good one.

So what can you do? Start a TNRM programme in your estate. Make sure the cats are properly managed, that you work with the town council and handle complaints. This immediately improves the chances of your cat being safer. Explain to people what you are doing in the estate and get them involved if possible. A community that cares for its cats has safer, healthier and happier cats.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Unsterilised 'tipped' ear cats update

The caregiver just clarified with her property manager and the manager said that the tipped ear cats were not in the area after all. It seems that she said they used to be there. She has promised to call the caregivers if she sees any though. If someone really is tipping their ears, then it may be abuse and it's important to know, and if it's just a fat, sterilised cat, then it's important for the town council to know.

I have heard this rumour about unsterilised tipped ear cats from other officers in the past and would like to get to the bottom of it. One interesting thing is that no one has been able to point the caregivers out to any so far.

On occasion, some cats may get into a fight, and miss the tip of part of the ear, but obviously this doesn't happen all the time.

Email addict

Scroll down to cartoon of 3rd January

My family says this is me :)

The importance of management

As I wrote in the Mediation factsheet, while sterilisation is really the backbone of a good TNRM programme, Management is the glue that holds it all together. Sterilisation is absolutely essential - it's necessary to control the community cat population and cuts down complaints. However you can have an estate with all the cats sterilised, and still have problems.

This was reinforced for me today when I received an email from a caregiver. She had gone to see her MP and asked to start a TNRM programme across her estate, and her town council officer called her to say that while they were happy to work with her in the areas she managed, they could not extend the programme estatewise just because there wasn't good management in other areas.

The caregiver also said that the other people she knew in other areas looking after the cats weren't doing a very good job. One person sterilised, but fed in a messy way, which led to many complaints. Another person fed but didn't really sterilise. She was wondering how to try and convince everyone to manage the situation better as her previous attempts had not been very successful.

She was also a little discouraged, but I told her to look at the positive side - she was doing a good job, which the TC officer noticed as well, and hence was happy to work with her. At the same time, with her good example, and with time, more people will hopefully come forward to help. This will mean that more and more areas will be covered as more people come onboard - it may take a while, but I'm sure that working together we can all get there.

Management is really about bringing in all the different components - feeding, sterilising, handling complaints/explaining TNRM/liasing with TC - and making sure that everything is done properly. It may take more than one person to do everything. Some people may be great at sterilising, others may be very responsible feeders. Some others may be great at dealing with mediations and town councils. Everyone can chip in and do what they're good at. At the end of the day the cats - and the community - win!

Help needed by student for a survey

A student from the University of Western Australia wrote in to ask for help with her survey on Singaporeans and their donation patterns to charities. She is interested in people who have donated to animal welfare charities among others, and is looking for people who might be able to help with her survey. She says that it will take 5 minutes to fill in.

Since everyone who reads this blog is so helpful and friendly,I thought I'd post this here (with her permission) to see if anyone would like to help her. If so, please email Viana at khoov02@student.uwa.edu.au.

Me-Ouch


Me-Ouch
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I saw this cute advertisement today. It's used in clincs to warn people about self-medicating with pain-killers.

It's a good point to also note that not everything that can be used for people can be used for cats - including for example, panadol.

'Pregnant' tipped ear cats

I received an email from a caregiver saying that her town council had called and agreed to continue to work with her on a TNRM programme in her area. One of the concerns the officer brought up though was that there were pregnant and nursing tipped ear cats. I asked the caregiver to please check with the officer where these cats are, because I'd be very curious to see them. She mentioned that the officer was very reluctant to say where these cats were.

For one thing, some of these 'pregnant' sterilised cats have turned out to be males. For another, I've seen cats getting ear tipped under anesthesia, and some of them still twitch under sedation. Imagine holding down a fully conscious cat and trying to cut its ear off - you'd be lucky to walk away with both hands intact!

Also caregivers are presumably doing this because they don't want the cats caught because they care for them. This would seem a very inhumane way of going about it given in mind they're undertaking it for the welfare of the cats. It would actually be easier in that sense to just get them sterilised.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Michelle looking happy


Michelle looking happy
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This is how Michelle looked after the meeting!

MND Meeting


MND
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Marcus, Michelle, Claris, Jolanda and I met with the new Minister of Ministry of National Development today, along with the MND and AVA to see how we can work together.

We were very pleased with the outcome of the meeting, and the Minister was very nice and willing to engage the Society in dialogue.

We hope to work with the Ministry, AVA, TCs, volunteers and everyone else involved to manage the community cat population in what we feel is the most effective, long term and humane solution, which is TNRM.

Meeting today

Have a meeting this afternoon, which I have been preparing for this morning. Will write more later.

Meeting


Meeting
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Jolanda, Marcus, Michelle & Claris came over for a meeting yesterday afternoon.